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by Erowid
800 BCE - 392 CE Oracle at Delphi inhales what are believed to have been Ethylene vapors from fissures in the rock beneath the temple. The oracle would enter a "trance" or even "frenzy"and answer questions or make prophesies. 1   [More Info]
1275 Ether was discovered by Spanish chemist Raymundus Lullius and named "sweet vitriol" 2  
1772 Nitrous Oxide gas first discovered by English scientist Joseph Priestley.    [Details]
1831-1832 Chloroform was discovered independently by three scientists: Samuel Guthrie, Justus von Liebig, and Eugene Soubeiran. Originally it was used as a treatment for asthma.   
c. 1840 Ether is used as a social lubricant during parties called "Ether Frolics".   
Late 1940s First known outbreak of gasoline sniffing in Warren, Pennsylvania. 3  
1950s Reports of many cases of deliberate inhalation of gasoline fumes by young people in the United States, Australia, India and Great Britain.    [More Info]
1959 Earliest known references to glue-sniffing in either medical or popular literature. 4   [Details]
1960s An increasing number of newspaper articles report adolescents sniffing airplane glue. 3  
1960 The FDA eliminates the prescription status of alkyl nitrites, making it available over the counter.   
1961 - 1965 Glue sniffing epidemic in Denver. The epidemic may have been caused by hyperbolic media reports about the activity. Reports of glue sniffing soon spread to other U.S. cities like New York and Salt Lake City. 4  
Jun 6, 1962 First known law against glue sniffing is passed in Anaheim, California. 4   [Details]
Jun 28, 1962 First peer-reviewed journal article on recreational glue sniffing appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 5  
c. 1967 Increasing reports of the recreational inhalation of aerosol products. 4  
1968 13 states and 29 counties and municipalities have passed anti glue sniffing legislation. 4  
1969 The FDA reinstates the prescription status of amyl nitrite. Rumors suggest this was done in part because its maker was concerned about recreational use among homosexuals and how that might impact their image.   
Oct 1, 1970 US BNDD reports that "sniffing of ballpoint pen ink, deodorants, decongestants, spot removers, or spray-on foot powder is on the increase". 6   [Details]
1977 Butyl nitrite sales exceed $50 million per year according to the Wall Street Journal   
1980 The last recorded anesthetic use of chloroform is administered, in Edinburgh, Scotland. 7   [Details]
1981 FDA issues an official statement regarding nitrite odorants, stating that no regulations or restrictions are necessary because of the "absence of demonstrable hazard".   

  1.   Broad WJ. "Fumes and Visions Were Not a Myth for Oracle at Delphi". New York Times. Mar 19, 2002.
  2.   Anesthesia Nursing and Medicine Web Page
  3.   Glowa JR. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs: Inhalants. Chelsea House, 1986.
  4.   Brecher EM, and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine. "How to launch a nationwide drug menace". Licit and Illicit Drugs. 1972.
  5.   Glaser HH, Massengale ON. "Glue-Sniffing in Children". JAMA. Jul 28, 1962;Vol 181:301.
  6.   Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Microgram. Oct 1970;3(6):174.
  7.   Altman LK. Who Goes First?: The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine. University of California Press. 1998. p.66.